The arctic “could be virtually ice-free in summer within 15 years,” according to a study.
The study, which USES statistical models to predict the future amount of arctic ice, suggests that in the decade of the 2030s, most likely in 2034, the arctic could be ice-free in summer.
Sea ice is frozen water that melts in the summer and refreezes in the winter. The amount of summer sea ice in the arctic has been steadily declining over the past few decades because of global warming. The U.S. national oceanic and atmospheric administration says the amount of sea ice in 2019 fell to the second-smallest level on record.
Sea ice affects arctic communities and wildlife such as polar bears and walruses, and helps regulate earth’s temperature by affecting atmospheric and ocean circulation. “The extent of arctic ice is important to the inhabitants of the arctic, whose land is being impacted by increased coastal erosion,” noaa said in a statement. In turn, the loss of sea ice creates economic opportunities, including the opening of oil fields and new shipping lanes.”
According to the report, what scientists call the first “ice-free” arctic summer year will occur when arctic sea ice is less than 1m sq km (thick ice around Canada’s arctic islands would probably have stayed around longer, even in summer). With climate change, the arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet. In 2019, arctic temperatures were about 3.4 degrees Celsius above average, the second-warmest year since records began in 1900.
The scientists also say the results suggest there is room for improvement in the sea ice model, which may be disappearing faster than current models suggest.